Origins and history

Aikido has many roots, as it developed from various styles of martial arts that used both weapons and bare hands. These arts were diffusely taught and practised all over Japan at the end of the nineteenth century. The creation of aikido begins with its founder Morihei Ueshiba (Tanabe 1883 - Tokyo 1969) and with the various experiences he had.


During his life, Ueshiba (Osensei) attended many other schools [e.g. Daito Ryu, Ono Itto Ryu and Sumo] but the meeting with Onisaburo Deguchi, the religious chief of the Shintoist sect Omoto-kyo, left a deep impression on Mohirei. Like many of the more recent Japanese religions, the Omoto-kyo, (the Teaching of the Great Origin), “... was a mixture of Shintoist mythology, faith healing and the cult of personality”.
Onisaburo’s personality, his pacifist beliefs and religious principles greatly influenced Ueshiba Morihei and contributed to the transformation of Daito Ryu into a Do, a Path, that is to say a practice in harmony with the pacifist beliefs, infusing it with a deep spiritual mark, mostly during the later part of his life.

In his old age Ueshiba Morihei kept his remarkable muscular strength, but also a remarkable capacity for using Ki, expressed in a very evident way when he used his prodigious Kiai.

From his large group of students it is Koichei Tohei who has done the most to develop people’s interest in the use of Ki in Aikido and surely also the one who has contributed more than any other to the realization of the original project of Ueshiba Morihei, Aikido as a way of harmony.

He met Ueshiba Morihei when he was 19, in 1939 and he was struck by the simplicity with which he succeeded in neutralizing anybody. He became his student and progressed quickly and reached the role of Chief Instructor of the Aikikai, the organization of the school of aikido, and the head teacher of the first level teachers. He was the first Japanese instructor of Aikido to teach and spread this art outside of Japan. Besides the meeting with Ueshiba Morihei, other experiences were very important for Tohei such as the practice of Misogi at the Ichikukai, Zazen and most importantly the meeting with Tempu Nakamura. Tohei, through the experiences learned from him, conceived that the mysterious power of Ueshiba Morihei in aikido was based on key elements: on the concept that “the mind moves the body” and on relaxation, the source of great efficiency. With these new insights he re-examined and worked out again the entire practice of aikido. [...] Koichi Tohei, later on, founded his own school: the Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido and the Shin Shin Toitsu Do.

In 1978 Tohei Sensei, helped by a young man, Kenjiro Yoshigasaki, held his first seminar in Europe. An important dates because it was the beginning of the development of several European dojos. Soon after Kenjiro Yoshigasaki sensei moved to Europe and gave his essential contribution to the development and diffusion of this discipline not only in Europe, but also in South America and South Africa.

- Giuseppe Ruglioni -